Memphis Belle


Action / Drama / History / War

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 75%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 79%
IMDb Rating 6.9 10 25281


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May 01, 2014 at 11:15 AM


Sean Astin as Sgt. Richard "Rascal" Moore
Billy Zane as Lt. Val "Valentine" Kozlowski
Eric Stoltz as Sgt. Danny "Danny Boy" Daly
John Lithgow as Lt.Col. Bruce Derringer
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
808.53 MB
23.976 fps
1hr 47 min
P/S 4 / 12
1.64 GB
23.976 fps
1hr 47 min
P/S 3 / 21

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by grantss 9 / 10

Great WW2 air drama

1943. The air war over Germany is at its zenith. In the 8th Air Force is a B-17 bomber whose crew are about to complete their 25th mission, the first to do so. After this mission they will be rotated back to the US on a marketing drive. However, their 25th mission is far from a milk run and they will need all the skill and luck they can muster to back it back alive.

Great WW2 drama, based on a true story. Loosely based, I might add - the actual story is immortalised in William Wyler's 1944 documentary "The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress". Some license has been taken with the details but it still makes for a gritty drama.

Broad plot is straightforward, with a few Hollywoodisms. However is very engaging, as you get to meet and understand the characters who make up the crew. You see the dangers they face and the high chance of not making it back.

Quite intriguing too, as nothing is certain.

Great aerial and action scenes, and this is where the movie truly shines. Using actual B-17s makes for a wonderful level of authenticity.

Solid performances all round from a decent cast: Matthew Modine, Eric Stoltz, Tate Donovan, DB Sweeney, Harry Connick Jr, Billy Zane, Sean Astin, David Strathairn and John Lithgow, among others.

Riveting viewing.

Reviewed by bkoganbing 8 / 10

A miracle of chance

Seeing movies about World War II we are always informed that the glamour service was the Air Corps. A bit of a carryover I suspect from World War I when you had those small biplanes with individual pilots acting like knights of old. That was not the mission of the Air Corps in World War II.

In fact people in the Air Corps were the first to see combat in both Europe and the Pacific. Before the invasion of North Africa the only blows against the Axis were struck by the people in the skies. The Americans and British had differing ideas about what to do which is discussed somewhat in Memphis Belle and also in other air films like Twelve O'Clock High for instance. The British believed in night bombing, fly high avoid the anti-aircraft, drop your load and let it do whatever damage it did wherever it landed. The Americans believed in what you see here, daylight bombing to try and limit damage to specific military targets. Casualties were greater that way.

So when a B-17 like the Memphis Belle completes its run of 25 missions with the same crew it is a miracle of chance that Captain Matthew Modine and his crew have gone through with the same bunch for 25. After that the tour of duty is up.

An eager Army Air Corps publicity guy John Lithgow wants to get them all on a war bond tour when that 25th mission is in the books. But the commander David Strathairn is just treating them like any of the rest of his crews. Not for the least reason that these guys have enough psychological pressure.

The crew is a cross section of Americana, white Americana to be sure as the armed forces were segregated at the time. Standing out in the performances are Eric Stoltz and Billy Zane and Harry Connick, Jr. To say that last mission was a rough one is putting it mildly.

The battle scenes are well staged, especially inside the plane which was one small contained area. I had never seen it portrayed so well before in a film about the war in the skies. Howard Hughes would have been proud of the staging.

This fine film is dedicated to those who fought in the skies in the 2nd World War. I could do no less with this review.

Reviewed by Ken Speckle 4 / 10

Would Have Been Better but the Dog Ate My Final Draft

World War II flying films are just my thing. Battle of Britain (1969), the Dam Busters (1955), Reach for the Sky (1956), Twelve O'Clock High (1949)... even The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress (1944) – I can't get enough. And so I came to Memphis Belle (1990) generously disposed and both hoping and expecting to like it. Spoilers follow.

Firstly, open your book of stock characters: one virgin, one fatalist, one phony, one inept and uninspiring leader, and deprive them of all inner depth. Next, when bringing them together as a team, rather than having them gel into right stuff, the best of the best, just make them a panicky, disorganised, undisciplined, incompetent and self-defeating rabble. Finally, ask your audience to believe that this collection of human detritus was the very best that VIII Bomber Command had at its disposal.

There are positives. In spite of the clichéd speech he has been handed, David Strathairn makes us feel the weight of many lives upon his shoulders, and John Lithgow has good moments (when away from the aircrew) as the PR man, but his character seems to be written just as the anti-Strathairn. Actually, much of the characterisation and dialogue has the feel of a school project we didn't have time to think through, so we went with the first idea that came into our head each time. Easily checked errors (use of modern phonetic alphabet and CPR, etc.) can be forgiven when the movie has already drawn us in, but here they just add to the sense of "the dog ate my final draft."

The aircrew actors are largely fine and, given the script, could not have been more. Eric Stoltz is the best of the group while (is it just me?) it is hard to get past Courtney Gains channelling young 'Lizabeth from the Waltons. Jane Horrocks in a minor role serves to remind us that good things can be done with only moments of screen time.

The in-flight filming ranged from disappointing (tens of identical Airfix planes motionless relative to one another, not quite pointing in their direction of travel and illuminated to not match their background) to excellent (especially the shots of action looking into the airframe from just outside). A crewman screaming into the radio as his doomed craft falls to earth was straight out of Dr. Strangelove, except that here it was not intended to be comedic. Or perhaps I am wrong, perhaps this was a comical interlude, as we are surely not to believe moments later that the ball-turret gunner had actually reached through solid metal to grasp the plane while blessed with the foresight that his turret would very soon fall off. (Don't worry, turret fans, it will re-attach itself in time for them to land with it.)

I wanted to like it more. 4.5/10

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